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When I first moved to New York City I used to make appointments all over the island without regard to location. Result: I wasted a ton of time sitting (or more usually standing) on buses and subways traveling to and from typical daily appointments. Since claiming a seat on a public conveyance here is pretty much a competitive sport, I was rarely able to use that time productively. Even if I was fortunate enough to grab a subway seat from another not so nimble rider, I still had to deal with endless interruptions. These were not conducive to reading or writing unless one had the ability to remain focused during intervals of screeching pleas for money, break dancers back flipping in sync to pounding boom boxes, painfully off tune vocal renditions or acrobatics performed on the overhead strap bars. And all this while maintaining constant surveillance of any deranged passengers for sudden movements in one’s direction.

But all those wasted hours and fares ended when I changed health insurers. Most of my former doctors were affiliated with a far west side hospital that was a big bug to get to: two buses plus some of the longest cross-town blocks in the world to cover on foot. Every time I had a medical appointment over there, I kissed a whole morning or afternoon goodbye. So the first thing I did was select a new hospital that was within walking distance of my apartment. I found a great one a mile and a half away. Next I selected doctors affiliated with that hospital, so now every time I had a medical appointment, it was a pleasant walk to and from. Which saved me transportation fares with the added benefit of a healthy, and, in New York, always entertaining walk.

Backing up the health angle, A New York Times article on Healthy Aging stated that the single most effective activity for good health was “an aerobic activity like brisk walking — about 30 minutes a day.”

I extended my neighborhood plan further, finding markets, restaurants, stores and services within strolling distance.

With some revision, this plan could also be transferred outside the city. Since a car is necessary there for long distances, why not find as many stores, cleaners, restaurants, fitness centers, medical people, etc. as close to home as possible. This would save both gas and wear and tear on cars.

And if you’re up to it out there in those burbs — or here in the city too — how about going still further and pedaling a bike to get where you’re going. Or maybe just use a bike some of the time; arriving at places of employment or restaurants in a too moist condition doesn’t make the coolest of entrances.

For many years I had a bike here in the city, zipping over to Central Park almost every day to play tennis. But then changes were made to my building, making it impossible to store my bike, a problem I no longer had when it was pinched during a summer weekend when I was away. And that bike (my second one stolen) had an absurdly thick chain that weighed more than I did, which tells you a little something about the determination of bicycle thieves here in the city.

So now I leave biking to those with more secure homes for them. It’s just me and my trusty legs, off and on our way to another not so far away visit that will save us some greenbacks, burn some calories and give us another shot of fresh air oxygen.

More on the transportation trail: